The quality of our lives is often about the choices we make–or don’t make. Our loves, our vocations, our environment and our spiritual paths are the sum total of what we say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to. And while it’s important to look back at our ‘missteps’ for learning and healing, what most of us ultimately want is to feel more connected to our current choices. We desire a sense that we’re making progress towards the life we want. For this we need an active relationship with the most trusting and the least trusting places in us.
We know all too well what it’s like to make decisions from our fears, from the parts of us stuck in the past, parts that never feel like enough, parts that only want to survive the moment with no real trust that we’ll ever get what we need and want.
Yet, there is a place in each of us that isn’t wounded, that isn’t living in the past, that doesn’t feel unworthy, that actually does trust life–our Essential Self. When we come from this place, we respond to the present moment with creativity, courage, compassion, and clarity. We feel wholeheartedly like ourselves.
While we don’t always know how to consciously come from that place, we have a pretty good sense, with some exceptions, for when we are and when we aren’t. Can you remember a time you walked away from a date or meeting with someone and thought to yourself, “What the heck is going on with me? Why couldn’t I just be myself tonight?” Somewhere in your body and feelings you knew you weren’t able to be yourself.
The work is to build a conscious awareness for when and why you move into and out of alignment with your Essential Self so that you can actually lead your life. It takes practice and often compassionate help to explore this. My own pain of not being able to consistently access this self-caring, connected and courageous place has driven me my entire adult life to find out why that is and do something about it.
The life we want and the love we need is available for each of us. And perhaps counterintuitively, a key first step is learning to show compassion for the parts of us that don’t feel worthy, that carry our shame and the parts working hard to make sure we never get hurt again. When we turn towards these aspects of us and find out what they need, they can begin to let go. It’s underneath these layers – and all of their stories – that the life we long for is waiting for us.